Brave New World Chapter 1 Summary

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
This lesson discusses the events that occur in chapter 1 of Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel, ''Brave New World.'' We are introduced to a central character, London society, and the idea of castes. First read the lesson, then test yourself with a quiz!

A Brief Synopsis of Chapter 1

Our first impression of Brave New World is formed and influenced by the introduction of a group of students as they tour a factory. However, this isn't like any field trip for would-be chemical engineers. Instead, these are future human engineers, charged with the task of making people. As the tour of the factory--known as the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre--continues, the group, following and listening to the Director, takes notes concerning all the processes involved with making people in this new world. Gone are the days of parents and families. Instead, people are created as they are needed.

We learn that this society is divided into castes, and rather than just being born into a certain caste, individuals are clearly created as they are needed to fulfill certain jobs. After all, as we are told early and often, the motto of this new society is Community, Identity, Stability. As the students continue their tour, they encounter one of the central characters of the book, Lenina. Within the first few words following her introduction, we learn that she is quite pretty and that she is admired by the men of the Hatchery.

As the chapter concludes, we learn that the levels of conditioning needed to create the rulers of this new society, the Alphas, goes well beyond the conditioning process experienced by others.

Cover of Brave New World
Cover of Brave New World

The Centrality of Standardization

What's amazing to learn, as the chapter progresses, is just how standardized everything is. This level of standardization even extends to the creation of the members of the lower castes, the Gammas, the Deltas, and the Epsilons. These members of society are often cloned through a method known as the Bokanovsky Process. Just as a tree can create multiple cuttings that are biological clones, the Bokanovsky Process creates individuals by splitting a human egg, causing it to form identical genetic copies. As the Director notes, '... ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress.' It is stated that this process helps to ensure even greater social standardization.

Conditioning the Classes

Meanwhile, even other aspects of development are standardized. Rather than growing in a womb, every life in this society springs forth from industrial vats. Along the way, the classes are conditioned to be content with whatever role they're chosen to fulfill. If a particular lot of embryos is destined for aeronautic mechanics, they are rotated frequently during development so as to be familiarized with constant inversion. However, the conditioning process also places a hard cap on development. Lower castes, for instance, are deprived of oxygen to limit brain function.

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